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Opinion

Can China solve the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Jagdish N Singh

Jagdish N SinghSep 16, 2021, 02:57 PM IST

Can China solve the Israel-Palestine conflict?

China's activities in the Middle East have mainly been about economic and trade development, such as energy supply, industrialization, and the Belt and Road Initiative's promotion in the region.

 

Is communist China trying to solve the long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine? Knowledgeable sources say that ever since the "Arab Spring," the US commitment to the Middle East has dwindled. The Quartet, consisting of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, has almost been paralyzed in facilitating the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. China has of late sought to intervene in the matter for a lasting solution to the problem. 

On May 17 this year, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forth a four-point proposal for peace to solve the current Israel-Palestine conflict. During his Middle East tour at the end of March this year, Wang announced the idea of inviting Israelis and Palestinians for talks in Beijing. Earlier, in 2013, China made a proposal to create a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital.

China today may be calculating it can play a constructive role. Its activities in the Middle East have mainly been about economic and trade development, such as energy supply, industrialization, and the Belt and Road Initiative's promotion in the region.

Besides, China has established friendly relations with many Arab countries, including establishing an "innovative and comprehensive partnership" with Israel and a long-standing friendship with Palestine. Recently, China has donated a lot to aid Palestine's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. All this might enable Beijing to speak to both Israel and Palestine and prevail over them.

However, the chances of any Chinese breakthrough in the matter are bleak. The United States made serious efforts, including those by former American President Bill Clinton, to solve the Israel- Palestine conflict. It failed. The same fate may be awaiting China's efforts.

The West Bank-based Fatah party of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Gaza Strip-based Hamas continue to queer the pitch of the peace process in the region. The UN Resolution 242 (1967) acknowledges the claim of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the region. This alone can be the basis for settling the Israel-Palestine conflict. But neither Fatah nor Hamas really accepts this resolution. Both parties continue to incite violence against the Jews and aspire to the eventual creation of an Islamic state, replacing all of Israel.

The PA controls the West Bank. At a news conference, then Palestine Liberation Organization chairperson Yasser Arafat said, "We accept two states, the Palestinian state and the Jewish state of Israel." The Palestinian leadership recognized Israel also in the famous 1994 Oslo accord between the PLO and Israel. But it never really practised it. As for Hamas, it is a declared terror outfit. It does not recognize this right of Israel at all. It continues to engage in terror activities and launches rockets against Israel.  

The sources suggest that, for peace to prevail in the region, ordinary Palestinians must take self-introspection, discard their current corrupt political leadership and chose genuine representatives to serve people's interests. Such leaders may get closer to Israel and derive all economic and technological benefits from it. Israel today is already helping Palestinian control the current pandemic. Israel also meets a great deal of Gaza's demand for energy.

The ordinary Palestinians ought to remember that Israel has never been an occupied nation. The Jews are indigenous to the Middle East and the Holy Land, not foreign interlopers or colonialist. Both the Bible and archaeology reveal that Jews have had a historical connection with Israel for over 3000 years.

The Jewish state has made various proposals to the Palestinians from time to time for peace. For the sake of peace, Israel has already control of the Gaza Strip. Today it allows Muslim worshippers to visit the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram Esh-Sharif, and pray at their third most sacred mosque, Al Aqsa, in the Old City of Jerusalem. 

(The author is a Delhi-based journalist)

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